Over The Rainbow- Run Toto Run Interview

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“Plastic Gold” By Run Toto Run

As band names go Run Toto Run is a pretty darn good name. It conjures up imagery of magical places far far away from home, of plucky little characters escaping the clutches of green hued evil doers who are wont to cackle “I’ll get you my pretty”. Yes rather like the movie from which their name derives,  Run Toto Run’s brand of Indie folk-electro pop has that same magical sense of wonderment, and is  full of shimmering understated beauty that manages to be literate, yet whimsical, innocent, yet knowing.   They have garnered support from the likes of 6 music’s Marc Riley, Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson and their third ever gig was at Glasto last year.  On top of this RTR’s Rachael Kitchenside also runs her own record label “The Lost and Lonely Singles Club” which as well as  self releasing her own sparkly, dreamy musical offerings has also featured music  from the excellent Stickboy .

Run Toto Run have a new single “Plastic Gold” which is released on Monday 8th June with a b-side entitled “Alice” and they’ve also kindly added a cheeky little remix of “Alice” by welsh synth-pop wizard Rod Thomas as a free download for your delight and delectation HERE.    With a tour  from the band planned later in the year, a Guardian photo shoot in the offing, it’s the start of an exciting time for our intrepid friends. We had a chat to Rachael who has been so busy  we caught her considering the moral and logistical implications of cloning herself – (What would Aunt Em say!)

VP: Who are Run Toto Run and how did you all meet up?

RACHAEL: It was through being involved in music in Manchester in various bands, I thought Mike’s dirty blues project the King Street Hobo was excellent so he ended up playing guitar with me when I was going under my own name, Matt was sessioning with half the bands in Manchester, saw Mike and I play a couple of times and knew where we wanted to go and asked if he could get involved and Cazz previously drummed for Stickboy who’s a good friend of mine and we asked her to come and play keys with us.

VP: You release a new single “Plastic Gold” on Monday 8th June would you say you’ve changed direction and gone electro? What’s the song about?

RACHAEL: Yeah we’ve had a real overhaul. I’d been listening to a band called the British Expeditionary Force a lot and asked a sound engineer friend how I’d get similar sounds and he said I’d need shed loads of electronics. When Matt joined he offered to play violin as he’s a professional violin player, I wasn’t really interested in that but when he mentioned he was into electronics my ears pricked up. So we’ve shifted from guitars to keys and synths to sound like bands we admire including folks like the Postal Service, but we still like to mix it up.

Plastic Gold is about not crying over relationships you let pass, the one that got away.

VP: Ok, so the name Run Toto Run must be from The Wizard Of Oz, you’ve done a photoshoot with a  Little Red Riding Hood theme ,  and your record label “The Lost and Lonely Singles Club” has previously released music by Stickboy.  Would it be fair to suggest there’s something of a fairytale theme here, a sense of magic, which is possibly not what most people would immediately associate with Manchester , home of Joy Division, The Smiths etc?

RACHAEL: Yeah we’re a little lighter it’s safe to say. We didn’t want to get too linked in with the name and liked the idea of keeping things a bit whimsical. Stickboy’s a good friend so he’s had a real influence on me especially. He and I recorded “Something to Say” in his living room and mic-ed up the keyhole to get the sound of the wind. We’re a load of romantics. The boys in the band are starting to level me a bit more, it’s losing it’s tweeness a little and I think probably becoming better and more substantive as a result, musically speaking.

VP:  Talking of your label, how difficult is it for an Indie to get off the ground and get noticed these days.

RACHAEL: I think you have to put out records for the love of it, L&L did very well last time round with zero cash, I think people saw the love that was put into the releases and in return gave some back, which was nice.

VP: You played Glasto last year, how did you enjoy it ?  What plans for 2009? Any festivals / gigs coming up?

RACHAEL: It was the absolute highlight of our year, one of our first gigs and we loved it as none of us had seen so many other excellent acts in such as short space of time and we’re all really into watching bands as well as making music.

This year we’re playing the Secret Garden Party and Manchester International Festival with a few more tbc. Glasto have closed a few of the smaller stages this year sadly so we won’t be back just yet.

We’ve got a tour planned in the second week in June too to support the single release, so we’ll be getting about as a band for the first time. We’re really excited; we’ve got iLiKETRAiNS’ lovely splitter van for the occasion.

VP: What have been the most exciting/memorable moments in Run Toto Run’s time together thus far?

RACHAEL: Hmmmmm. It’s been weird. Personally it was getting played by Lamacq with that first track Stickboy and I did and had just popped in the post to him on a whim. I screamed the house down when someone pointed out it had made the playlist. The last tour before Cazz joined was interesting too. We played our very first gigs then ended up doing a session for Tom Robinson in the Hub with George Lamb interviewing the Kaiser Chiefs through the glass. It was a little surreal for us, managerless, clueless and wondering how we’d got there. We also ended up staying in a crack den, one of us accidentally took a pillow from there, got flee bites and it was around that time we penned the legendary song “Crack Den Pillow”. This has not been recorded as of yet

VP:  What sort of music has influenced your sound?

RACHAEL: People like Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, Bat for Lashes, TV on the Radio, Hot Chip, The Postal Service and more recently we’ve been listening to people like Metronomy, Micachu and School of the Seven Bells

VP:  What’s grabbed your attention so far in 2009?

RACHAEL: Micachu is someone we all agree on and have been to see several times together.

VP:   Any new artists / bands to keep an ear out from Manchester?

RACHAEL: Everything Everything without a doubt and they make phenomenal videos too. They do things with a song you’d never expect. Dutch Uncles are not new but are one of the best acts in Manchester.

VP: If you had to pick a five word motto for RTR what would it be? “There’s No Place Like Home” perhaps?

RACHAEL: You’ve thrown the curve ball at the end, it’s hard to find something that speaks for us all… right now we’d like to see the world a little so it’s the opposite of our motto, so, from Moonriver “Off to see the world”

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“Your Face” By Run Toto Run

Live Session on Channel M here

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Light The Fuse -We Were Promised Jetpacks Interview

“Quiet Little Voices” By We Were Promised Jetpacks

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People tell me that choosing a band name can be quite a difficult process. However as a former member of a thrilling musical ensemble I actually found bestowing a collective name upon our venture the least of our worries, our problems derived from an acute lack of musical ability and the fact that we weren’t exactly overwhelmed with a surfeit of decent material or even anything that even resembled a tune.  As songwriter I take full responsibility for penning such cringe worthy epics  as “Global Chernobyl”, “Lager Shandy With Rosie“Bryan Ferry, A Cross, The Mersey” “Bill Oddie Haircut Stigma“, “Multi-Coloured Sweat Shop” and the rather moving, evocative tale of unrequited love  “You Can’t Leave Me If You’re Dead”. Yes Distant Echos failed for one reason and one reason alone -we were utter shite. The lesson? Having a quirky, interesting or cool name simply won’t cut the mustard; it’s the tunes that matter!

Mercifully Scottish band “We Were Promised Jet Packs” have no such worries and have songs every bit as interesting and exciting as their name might suggest.   The Scottish 4-piece came to FatCat Records attention whilst they were having a gander at one of their signings, Frightened Rabbit’s, myspace chums.  A subsequent tour as main support for Frightened Rabbit followed and earned WWPJ rave reviews.   They have  been  featured in  NME, The Fly, WIRED, Vanity Fair and Clash, were chosen as Q’s Track of the Day and played by the unintelligible, hyperactive, kiwi fruitcake, Zane Lowe.  A demo version of ‘Quiet Little Voices’ also recently won Zane’s  ‘Fresh Meat’ vote.

Hot off the heels of a successful SXSW jaunt (performing alongside Glasvegas and Primal Scream) and with a debut album in the offing, 2009 looks set to be an exciting year for WWPJ . We had a word with lead singer/guitarist Adam Thompson about all things musical.

VP:  What was the motivating factor in forming a band?  Was there a catalyst or was it just something that seemed a natural thing to do?

ADAM: It just happened.  We were all friends who happened to be able to play instruments. There was no big meeting, or mission statement or anything like that!  We’re all pretty happy we did now though!

VP:  The band name is pretty unusual, did you have other names and what made you settle on this one?

ADAM: We had some more names that were floating about. We set ourselves a deadline, and when it came we had to settle on what we’ve got now. It’s worked out well, I suppose. It’s really hard thinking up band names! Everyone always goes “Aww that’d make a great band name” when they hear stuff, we all still do it now, but to pick one for your own band is pretty hard.

VP:  You’ve played SXSW , how did you get on the bill and how did you enjoy the experience?

ADAM: We applied for funding from the Scottish arts council who were amazing. They gave us and a bunch of other bands a pile of money so that we could buy plane tickets over and find a place to stay, they were brilliant. As they were sending us, that’s how the Scottish arts showcase came about, the other shows were all sorted by the guy who’s in charge of the U.S branch of  Fatcat, our label. Playing there was loads of fun! We didn’t really get a chance to take in many other bands, as we were pretty busy, but we got a real taste of the festival and enjoyed it a lot.

VP:  You have a single out, “Quiet Little Voices’ on May 4th, as the lead up to your debut album. How the process of choosing a lead single work does, do the band chose, the label, or is it a case of a consensus between the two?

ADAM: I think most bands just get told what it is, but Fatcat are such an artist-centred label that we have a compromise. This one was a natural choice anyway I think. It was good for the label as the demo had done pretty well; it’s been played on a few radio stations and all that. For us, it’s our oldest song, so it will be good to have it out of the way! We still enjoy playing it live, but can’t bear to hear it! We did a video for the song and had to stand in a room and listen to it 10 or so times. Not a fun day!

VP:  What have you got lined up for the rest of the year?

ADAM: The album comes out June 15th. We’ve got our first ever headline tour in June which is very exciting. We have a couple of summer festivals lined up and we have our final exams at university, getting them out of the way will be fantastic! We’re planning another single for after the album comes out, but anything beyond that will depend on what doors are opened with the album release, if any. Hopefully a couple of people will like it and we can have a bit of fun…

VP:  What sort of music has been an influence on your sound?

ADAM: A lot of our friend’s bands in Scotland, obviously Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad, like everyone else. Nothing that really goes back too far, we tend to listen mostly to music from the last few years, bands like Hot Club De Paris for the picky guitar stuff, or the Longcut for the soundscapes…

VP:  It’s a cliché, but have sites like myspace been influential in helping you get off the ground whilst awaiting your jetpacks?

ADAM: Definitely. One of us once said in an interview that it basically managed us for a few years, which is a good way of putting it. It was just so easy to find promoters in your city, and as soon as you find them they can instantly hear what you sound like and book you or not. Also, for finding local bands in a similar situation as you and keeping in touch with them, booking your own shows. it’s been incredibly useful.

VP :  What’s the music scene like up in Scotland these days? Any upcoming bands you’d recommend?

ADAM: It seems to be really good. In Glasgow, where we’re based, we’re not really part of a “scene” as such, it’s more just a bunch of friends who all play in bands. we thoroughly recommend Endor, Lyons, John B McKenna, Dupec, Big River. There are loads…

VP:  Last musical purchase was ………………..?

ADAM: For me, the newest Spinto Band album. I always loved the one before last, and we supported them in Edinburgh recently,  I was embarrassed that I hadn’t bought the newest one. We then saw them at SXSW and I still hadn’t bought it.  But I have now. Don’t tell them I didn’t have it all along…

VP:  Five words to sum up your hopes for 2009?

ADAM: We hope it’ll be alright.

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“Quiet Little Voices” By We Were Promised Jetpacks

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Fully Loaded- Levelload Interview

“I’ve Been Thinking” By Levelload

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“Cos he said they’d live in New York /and the stars would be their own/she was Debbie Harry / he was Joey Ramone” …so sang Helen Love , and that lyric could possibly sum up Mari Doi and Tony Wade hopes and dreams when they first met 😉 They collided one night under Tokyo’s neon sky, bonding over a reciprocal love of Blondie, Gang of Four, Link Wray, and erm yellow, the colour that is, not that rarity, a Coldplay song that isn’t in all actuality, unbearably smug.  Pretty soon they realised they had much in common and decided to form a musical partnership and reach for the stars . Having decided on the name Levelload they set to work to write punchy, edgy pop and their first collaborative effort “Palookaville” was quickly picked up by the discerning ears of John Peel and played on Radio 1 – not bad for a first effort.  Thus inspired, they quickly released a follow up single the acerbic “HND In RNR” which immediately created a stir and possibly put a few noses out of joint within various London fashionistas.  A string of European dates ensued plus a tour of Germany “toured there twice-once in winter freezing our asses off. Blocked roads, bridges, driving across snow fields to make it for sound-check and all round not much sleep touring fun  “

The pro-active duo then flew to Japan, to undertake a D.I.Y. tour which ultimately resulted in Tokyo based Flightpath Records duly snapping them up and releasing their debut album “Yellow Fever” to critical and commercial acclaim. More gigging followed which further enhanced their growing live reputation and with their star in the ascendancy in Japan, they appeared live on Fuji TV’s “Factory” – the Japanese equivalent of “Later with Jools Holland,” (minus the pressure of being strong-armed into performing “an impromptu boogie-woogie duet” with gurning host”) and also became regulars on national radio.

After spending the past 6 months treating Japan to their unique brand of  scuzzy new wave electro the pair have finally return to this green and occasionally  pleasant land, and  are set release a new  single ‘I’ve Been Thinking’,( 25th May 2009  Flightpath Records). The song features their trademark crazy electro meltdown keyboard action, melded with scything, visceral, demented guitar riffs and topped off with  vocals that have the urgency of Bis on a sugar rush and the pop melody of Debbie Harry fused with the attitude of Karen O. It’s a pop punk extravaganza and it’ll have you bouncing off the walls like Timothy Leary suffering from ADHD whilst astride a huge space hopper.  But that’s enough from me lets turn the spotlight on Levelload and give ’em a grilling 😉

VP:   You first met when Tony was visiting Tokyo and hit it off straight away, how did the idea to form musical partnership evolve?

LEVELLOAD: We found we had very similar ideas about music, and wanted to get away from the sort of bands we had been in before. Wanted to do it our way basically.

VPTell us the significance of

( a) The Band name

LEVELLOAD: Levelload,  as in evenly loaded, or weighted. We completely share the work, writing lyrics, programming drums, guitar riffs and vocal melodies and so on.

VP: And

( b) the colour yellow ?

LEVELLOAD: I’m yellow (Mari), and we have matching yellow guitars, then it just started spreading.

VP A while back you seemed fed up with the London saying it was saturated with “third rate Indie bands who would dress up being shit as art” .  Do you still have the same antipathy towards the “scene” or have things moved on ?

LEVELLOAD: Actually it’s got worse, the latest thing being those who have looked up the musical definition of “dark” and come up with Siouxsie and the Banshees, or Joy Division. Brilliant! Wish I’d thought of that. Unfortunately the emperors’ new clothes thing comes up all too often.

VPWould it be right to say that you’re second single “HND in RNR” a bit of an attack on that scene?

LEVELLOAD: Yes, I hope so. The song’s about the idea that rock and roll has to have a qualification, or a scene, something other than music, like a stamp of approval. We hope we’ve managed to reach people’s hearts with something a little less contrived.

VP: You’ve spent the last six months or so touring Japan , what’s the musical landscape  like there at the moment ?

LEVELLOAD: I love the Kansai Zero generation scene. They are the children of Boredoms. They rock with a style that could only come from there.

VPApparently Duran Duran are big fans of you both and invited you to play at one of their after show parties? What was that experience like?

LEVELLOAD: Oh, just another show with famous people having too much to drink, Simon Le Bon moshing down the front, Dom Pérignon on our rider. Nothing special, hahaha!

VP: You’re set to release you latest single “I’ve Been Thinking’ (25th May 2009, Flightpath Records). Can you explain what the songs about?

LEVELLOAD: It’s about obsessive love and starting to imagine things.

VP:  You’ve described your self as a pop act not a band, why the distinction? Is it because you’re a duo, or more so that Indie bands are a bit passé?

LEVELLOAD: We don’t want to be just another Indie band!! It’s not a fashion thing; bands can be so predictable and boring. We want to have a twist to things generally. When people get together and make something that’s more than just a band, then you have something.

VP:  Who would you say has influenced your sound?

LEVELLOAD: Devo, Blondie, Link Wray, Talking Heads, Man or Astroman?, YMO.

VP: What’s the strangest experience you’ve had since dipping your toes into the turbid waters of the music bizz?

LEVELLOAD: We had a few days off in Japan last year, and decided to go to an event organized by a friend of a friend featuring all Osaka bands. It was all reasonably weird as it was, involving, amongst other things, beat poetry read by a man wearing nothing but S&M pants with lights and Kaos pads, which he was using to control samples over Led Zeppelin songs. Then before going onstage the singer of the headline band, who had a huge scar in an “X” across his chest, and was pretty out of it by that time, pissed in front of the stage. After a scuffle with the staff they started, but before long he stuck his fingers down his throat and puked all over himself. Did the rest of the show covered in sick/piss. Nice. An unusual evening.

VP:  Which five albums would you say “shaped you”  ?

LEVELLOAD:

“Boys Don’t Cry” The Cure.

“Freedom of Choice” Devo

“Rumble” Link Wray. Yes I know it’s not an album, but I’m not sure he made any, other than collections + it’s such a good record!

“77”  Talking Heads

“Fair Warning” Van Halen

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The Horrors-Primary Colours-Is It Really That Good ?

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The NME have declared the Horrors latest album “Primary Colours” to be a defining moment in the history of music, forget all that has come before, for that was mere frippery and foolishness, The Horrors have redefined Rock N’ Roll …..Bizarrely many within the blogsphere seem to have been affected by an identical form of mass hysteria, squealing with delight and somewhat prematurely bestowing “Album Of The Century” plaudits on “Primary Colours”.However upon hearing the album in its entirety we remain resolutely unconvinced that this “new direction” is actually anything more than a cynical and calculated hatful of hollow driven by a ruthless and unrelenting hype machine to generate “buzz“.   We therefore decided to give the job of reviewing The Horrors album to a man who has seen it all, who witnessed the birth of “Goth” and who has the experience and wisdom to forensically slice through the PR bluster and investigate if there is any merit whatsoever in the fatuous assertions that “Primary Colours” is on a par with “Psycho Candy” or “Disintegration“. We therefore summoned Richard the Goth from his North Yorkshire Mausoleum, jemmied his coffin lid  open and politely requested he give us the definitive verdict on the Horrors latest offering.-VP

UNIVERSAL PIPTURES IN ASSOCIATION WITH 20th CENTURY GOTH PROUDLY PRESENT

“CARRY ON UP THE CRYPT”

(A HILARIOUS FARCE IN WHICH FIENDISH FARIS AND HIS FRIENDS ATTEMPT TO CONVINCE A SCEPTICAL PUBLIC AS TO THE MERITS OF THEIR “NEW DIRECTION”)

Words: Richard the Goth

Cast your minds back, if you will, to those far-off innocent times shortly before the NME decided that Glasvegas were the bright shiny future of pop music and then began their inexorable and undignified climb up James Allan’s fundament. There was a brief period of time when said publication tried to put forward The Horrors as the latest guiding beacon for a lost generation of pop kids, and somehow it all sounded so right on paper to begin with. Some holy hallowed names were invoked in the process: they were the skewed warped voodoo ju ju of the The Cramps, the white-knuckle rollercoaster ride through Hades of The Birthday Party at their hellish narcotic peak, the sexed-up whiskey priest sinners of The Gun Club. Throw in the strychnine-soaked sixties garage trash of The Sonics and that, said the hacks, was The Horrors in a nutshell. Good God, we all thought, that sounds amazing, what could possibly go wrong? Well, alas, apparently everything could, and the band turned out to be not the beautiful bastard offspring of the legends named above, but a bunch of hopeless chancers who’d spent more time back-combing their barnets and raiding some dusty old Victorian gentleman’s dressing-up box than they had on actually writing anything even half decent. I personally don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive them for wasting half an hour of my life when they were bottom of the bill to The Jesus And Mary Chain at Brixton in 2007. Their hopeless pantomime reeked of desperation and they rank as one of the phoniest acts it’s ever been my misfortune to witness. Faris, dear, you can climb the speaker stacks and hurl yourself over the barriers but it doesn’t make you Lux Interior, and dropping to your knees and howling at the moon while tugging distractedly at your hairdo does not automatically put you up there with Nick Cave. When The Mary Chain took to the stage, it must have been an abject humiliating lesson for them when Jim Reid, a middle-aged man with sensible shoes, neat short back and sides, and zero stage histrionics, taught them that you just can’t play at it: you’ve either got innate rock ‘n’ roll cool pumping through your veins or you ain’t. And, well, The Horrors quite obviously didn’t.

But that was then and this, apparently, is now. They have miraculously forged a brave new direction, website blogs are awash with awe at the profound shiny black gothic beastie they have become, and our old friends at the NME inform us that this LP “will change everything”. No hyperbole there, then…

It takes a very special sort of band indeed to borrow some of the coolest elements of leftfield-indie-goth-rock’s past, throw them together, and still manage to make a colossal c*ck-up of it, but The Horrors are quite clearly just the band for the job. On Primary Colours, there are Joy Division bass lines galore, the Phil Spector Wall Of Sound 60s girl group drumbeats so beloved of The Mary Chain circa Just Like Honey/Sowing Seeds, a pinch of early Bauhaus, a smidge of Psychedelic Furs, classic Faith/Pornography era Cure, and yet somehow they miss the point by a million miles. To these ears, the one major sound that they’ve homed in on, like hyenas on a lame zebra, is the brain-bending swathes of woozy distorted guitar perfected by Kevin Shields on My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and they seem to be so thrilled with it that it’s pretty much shoe-horned into every bloody song whether it belongs there or not.

It all gets off to an underwhelming start with Mirror’s Image, a veritable car crash of MBV guitar, ambient noodling, and mid-80s Bowie, and then it’s pretty much downhill all the way from there. There are 2 songs where for a few brief moments you hope they’re actually going to turn out a decent tune – Who Can Say is at first redolent of early Psychedelic Furs and might’ve made for a good song had Butler Rep been at the helm, but this being The Horrors, you don’t have to wait long before the hideously out-of-place keyboards and quite possibly the most cringeworthy spoken-word middle eight ever committed to record arrive on the scene to stamp out any such lurking potential. The rumour mill is apparently in overdrive as to whether the spoken section is aimed at Peaches Geldof or not, but by the time the dreadful “get away, get away” ending had hoved into view, I found myself not giving a flying f**k whether it was about Peaches or the man from Del Monte quite frankly.

Next up is Do You Remember, an MBV rip-off so blatant that, if Kevin Shields’ legal people ever get to hear it, there could well be trouble.

On and on it goes – Scarlet Fields is the only other song that, courtesy of its Joy Division bass, makes you think it might be half decent, until those god-awful keyboards and (you’ll never guess… go on, try…) MBV guitars completely swamp it out again. By far the worst thing about the band has to be Faris’ voice. He’s a poor lyricist, and an even poorer vocalist. He simply just doesn’t have any power, any presence, any panache. Nuls points.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, here’s Only Think Of You to prove you wrong, and this one is just plain hilarious. As if the sub-Peter Murphy crooning isn’t bad enough, there’s a string section on it that is quite clearly recorded in such a way that is meant to render it off-key, disorientating and atonal. Well, that’s probably the effect they were hoping for, but unfortunately it reminded me of nothing quite so much as the chamber orchestra in the dinner party scene of the classic Carry On Up The Khyber after the Governor’s mansion has been shelled and the ceiling has collapsed on them, and they valiantly attempt to play on tunelessly. I’m afraid that if The Horrors had been that house band, Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond would have drawn his service revolver and shot them.

This sorry slab of an LP finally draws to a close with the supposed epic Sea Within A Sea and, sadly, like many of the world’s great bodies of water, it too is awash with poisonous toxic sludge and more raw sewage than you’d care to imagine. They so desperately want it to be an epic tour-de-force, but the material simply isn’t there. It starts out sounding like Bauhaus having a stab at The Knack’s My Sharona, before straying off into a Depeche Mode-esque electropop middle bit which takes you back to that horrible period in the mid 80s when otherwise fine bands would artificially stretch their singles into a 12″ mix simply by bunging in a load of boring superfluous drumbeats just to flesh it out. And finally, mercifully, it’s over.

As far as “new directions” go, this one ranks alongside the cynical career ploy of no-hope indiepop moppets Fear Of Flying who suddenly donned black army shirts, stopped smiling and tried to pass themselves off as the Joy Division/Echo And The Bunnymen de nos jours White Lies. Similarly The Horrors have miraculously ceased to be wild-eyed gutter urchins and  are now apparently sophisticated international men of mystery, and the whole band now have suitable down-played haircuts and outfits for the photo-shoots and videos. It’s that calculated, and that shallow, and unfortunately it comes across as that transparent. It isn’t the much-vaunted maturing progression of a band at all: – they tried to be frenzied garage demons and fell flat on their ar*es, so they’re having a crack at being something else instead.

It’s not saying much, but the music’s a marginal improvement on The Horrors of old, but the problem remains that they will never be able to escape the fact that they are forever shackled to their own overwhelming cack-handed amateurishness, and no amount of reinvention will ever be able to turn dogsh*t into diamonds.

So, Primary Colours, on a scale of 1 to 10? Less than one, actually.

____________________________________________________________

So there you have it,    but such is the pant moistening  adulation being heaped upon this album we thought a second opinion was needed, and who better than  our regular columnist, a bastion of  no nonsense common sense,  Radio Cheambeat’s Oliver Dogwood.  When we mentioned The Horrors to him he almost choked  on his Bovril, before spluttering his favourite beef flavoured  infusion all over his Sta-prest Farah slacks….. here’s what he had to say ..

Hello Dogwood here.

Settle down.

I admire Dickens as a writer, his Christmas classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ serves to remind me that nothing good comes about by being a maudlin ‘poor me, poor me’ merchant.  His film-making is unsurpassed and his musical about the Jewish feller, “Oliver Reed!” and the annoying child who keeps getting himself lost puts me in mind of what life was like in Preston c.1954.  Talking of Preston c.1954, my favourite Christmas Cracker gag of all time surfaced around that Christmas.  It goes something like this:

Q: “Name the Victorian serial killer who lived on the bottom of the ocean?”

A: “Jack The Kipper”

All this Dickensian/Victorian wisteria leads me to conclude that whilst I like to dip into the age of child labour, slums and consumption for occasional entertainment, I would not want to live there.  The Horrors, however, it seems to me, apparently do.

I don’t do backcombed hair, stovepipe trousers and pointy shoes gadding about in an annoying fashion around Whitechapel and Clerkenwell for the bloody hell of it all.  I’ve seen these types lounging about bars in Camden, drinking absinthe chasers and their Mary Kelly’s, ordering their lobster and lettuce.  The Dickensian waifs new wave has apparently washed up on the beaches of Suburban Londonium and I find myself tutting more and shaking my head in disbelief as another doe faced “Little Dorrit walks past.  They call themselves such ludicrous names such as “Ferris Wheel and “Rubella Nightshade” and swoon and have regular attacks of the vapours.  It’s tiresome down “the Crown” when a crowd of these “would be” Chuzzlewits start knocking back the absinthe.  They talk in loud tones to annoy the locals and in hushed reverential tones when the subject of  The Horrors comes up.

I don’t do The Horrors, an unseemly mix of ‘racket‘ and ‘foggy olde Londonium’ does not rock’n’roll make.  More like rock’n’rile.  They rile me something chronic with their bizarre London Dungeon gait and ‘Ooh look at him over there, with his Farah’s and sensible windsheater, that must be Dogwood that must be’ arch piss-taking.

Yes it is me and far better a sensible pair of trousers and protection against the elements than trying to become a human silhouette.  Yet, they don’t see it that way and the local Horrors fans have taken to lounging around Dogwood cottage and leaving their half-used opium cakes uneaten amongst the Dahlias.  A right bloody mess.

If it’s not bad enough that I have the local hoodies with their outsized trousers going south routine, the local Apache Indian revival crew and a smattering of Emus with their Jack Skellington regalia to contend with.  I now have a gang of would be late Victorian serial killer fetishists with their Phantom Raspberry Blower skits.

Life is never easy for the likes of me.  As I get older, the habits of the young never cease to confuse and confound me.  I know that lads of my vintage went round wearing Edwardian drapes and bum freezer jackets but at least they had some point.  Looking like a John Cooper Clarke clone with an official residence address of Flat 13, Bleak House seems a tad too pointless to me.
Now I’m off to attend the inaugural evening of Ivor The Engine enthusiasts, an evening that I hope will be totally devoid of Mr and Ms Horror.

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Music News w/e 17/04/09

This week ….win Damien Hirst  Original Art Work, The Hours, The Von Bondies,Cutaways, Rose Elinor Dougall, Moby & David Lynch,  Howling Bells, The Lights, Catherine A.D. and A Fair Few FREE mp3’s.

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THE HOURS & DAMIEN HIRST

Damien Hirst, the most successful British artist of his generation, is working with his friends The Hours: designing their record sleeves, art directing their videos and releasing their new album, See The Light, on his own specially-created label.

Clicking the link below gives you the chance to win one of 20 signed litho prints of the his artwork created especially for The Hours new album sleeve. Then, on Sunday 19 April in Observer Music Monthly magazine you can enter the competition to win the original artwork – valued at £125,000 – created by Damien himself.  You can also exclusively download the track These Days from The Hours’ new album See The Light.

http://www.guardiansolutions.co.uk/hirstcomp/

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THE VON BONDIES
NEW SINGLE: PALE BRIDE – 27/04/09
NEW ALBUM: LOVE, HATE & THEN THERE’S YOU – 04/05/09


The Von Bondies release their third studio album ‘Love, Hate And Then There’s You‘ on Monday 4th May 2009.  It will be preceded by the single ‘Pale Bride’/ ‘Earthquake‘ on the 27th April.  The album will be available on CD & download. The single as a 7″ and download. Both will be released through Fierce Panda.

This deluxe Fierce Panda European release also comes with a bonus CD featuring five new tracks not available elsewhere.

The Album Tracklisting is as follows:
1 ‘This Is Our Perfect Crime’; 2 ‘Shut Your Mouth’; 3 ‘Pale Bride’; 4 ‘Only To Haunt You’; 5 ’21st Birthday’; 6 ‘She’s Dead To Me’; 7 ‘Chancer’; 8 ‘I Don’t Wanna’; 9 ‘Blame Game’; 10 ‘Accidents Will Happen’; 11 ‘Earthquake’; 12 ‘Modern Saints’

Shortly before the album’s release, The Von Bondies will return to the UK for a series of dates. They are as follows:

April
Thu 23rd – Kings College – London
Fri 24th – CAmden Crawl – London
Sat 25th – O2 Academy – Birmingham
Sun 26th – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – Glasgow
Mon 27th – The Ruby Lounge – Manchester

www.myspace.com/vonbondies

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CUTAWAYS

Cutaways release their new single Milo of Kroton on May 11th, which is taken from their debut album Earth and Earthly Things set for release on July 6th.

The single has been spot played on Rory McConnell’s Introducing show on BBC Radio 1 and Xposure on XFM.

The Belfast band play the following dates as part of their UK tour

Tue 21st April –  Artrocker presents Cutaways @ The Buffalo Bar, 259 Upper Street, London N1. Tel: 020 7359 6191. www.buffalobar.co.uk. 10.30pm. £5

Wed 22nd April – Man On The Moon, 2 Norfolk Street, Cambridge, CB1 2LF. Tel 01223 565 396. 9pm. Free admission.

Thu 23rd April –  White Hart, High Street, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 1UX. 9pm. Free admission.

Fri 24th April – Creative Blocks @ Big Blue Coffee Company, 47 Sadler Gate, Derby, DE1 3NQ Tel. 01332 608619. 8pm – late.  £2 before 10pm, £3 thereafter

Sat 25th April – Dickens @ No. 10 Wellgate, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S60 2LR. Tel 01709 360006 Doors at 8pm, Cutaways live 9.10pm. £3.

www.myspace.com/cutaways

www.WeAreCutaways.co.uk

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ROSE ELINOR DOUGALL

New Single Start/Stop/Synchro

Start/Stop/Synchro will be released on limited, coloured vinyl through Elefant Records Singles Club on June 8th 2009. Again produced and fleshed out by Rose along with producer Lee Baker in his Brighton studio, Start/Stop/Synchro is taken from Rose’s almost completed, upcoming debut album, ‘Without Why’.

If Another Version Of Pop Song (her debut release, Guardian Guide Single of the Week) was a step away from the past. Start/Stop/Synchro sees Rose entering into a bright new beginning. Cinematic, minor key melodies, spiralling guitars, glacial keys, strings and a propulsive beat cast a brisk but not bristly sheen over a buoyant structure, transforming the original demo into a fully formed pop song. B-Side, Static Saturday unavailable elsewhere sees Rose blending her love of My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and The Cocteau Twins into her own three minutes of bliss.

Since the last single, Rose and her band of Distractions have been busy playing gigs all around the UK supporting the likes of British Sea Power, Jesca Hoop and Chairlift, headlining shows of their own, whilst finding time to fit in sessions for Marc Riley, John Kennedy and Huw Stephens along the way. More dates to coincide with the release of Start/Stop/Synchro will be announced soon, but for now you can check her out in the capital here:

April 17th – CAMDEN The Enterprise
April 28th – CAMDEN Dingwalls

Listen to the new single here: http://www.myspace.comroseelinordougallmusic

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MOBY


Moby’s sublime animated video (courtesy of David Lynch) ‘Shot In The Back Of The Head’ is now available on You Tube and Vimeo and of course via Moby’s recently re-launched official site.  You can download ‘Shot In The Back Of The Head’ from free from Moby’s homepage now. www.moby.com

Moby’s brand new album ‘Wait for Me’ is released on the 29th June.

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HOWLING BELLS RELEASE NEW SINGLE ‘DIGITAL HEARTS’ ON 18 th MAY 2009
ON INDEPENDIENTE (7″ and download)


It’s been a great start to 2009 for the Howling Bells. First they released their 2nd album ‘Radio Wars‘ to widespread critical acclaim before heading out to complete a sellout UK tour.
New single ‘Digital Hearts’ is a brilliant, uncomplicated, up tempo song. It’s the sound of a band on top of their game and their ambitions to write widescreen pop songs of substance being audibly realised. However, like all the Bells output and all great pop songs before it, there’s a twist that cunningly belies its underling euphoria. Listen closely, ‘Digital Hearts’ might not be as sweet as you first thought.

But with pounding drums high in the mix and Juanita’s extraordinary voice curling around the chiming guitar lines, one thing is undeniable: Once you hear Digital Hearts over the airwaves you won’t be turning the radio dial to any other station.

http://www.howlingbells.net/

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THE LIGHTS

The Lights release double A side single ‘Low Hundreds / Formerly Yours’ on May 11th through Crash Records. Described by The NME as  and here’s the video

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GREEN DAYS NEW SINGLE


“Know your Enemy” from the bands eighth studio album “21st  Century Breakdown” can be heard here

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And Finally Some Free Mp3’s

Nine Black Alps | ‘Buy Nothing’ (first teaser track from new LP) | Download it here – http://www.nineblackalps.com

Catherine AD

Catherine AD also has a free download for y’all , she says: “I’ve been wrestling with technology and underwater pianos and resurfaced with a reinterpretation/remix/cover of one of my favourite songs from last year  – ‘Paris’ by Friendly Fires.”

Download here or here even!

Follow her online http://twitter.com/catherineAD
Myspace: http://myspace.com/catherineAD
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Catherine-AD/50937167445

Interview here https://vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/catherine-ad-interview/

Mr Fogg,  a new electronic artist from London, has a free Mp3 available for your delectation.  He’s already seen comparisons to Postal Service and Mum (he recorded his soon-to-be-released debut album in Iceland with Valgeir Sigurdsson) and ‘Stung’ can be downloaded from here http://soundcloud.com/stayloose/mr-fogg-stung.

Alessi’s Ark

(Virgin Records)

Host of new London solo and full band shows just announced! Check Myspace page for full details.

Single ‘Over The Hill’ out 27th April

Debut Album ‘Notes From The Treehouse’ out 4th May

Free Mp3 ‘Magic Weather’ available now – http://emi.emreact.com/go.asp?/.virgin.alessisark.signup.freetrack/bEMU001

Official site: www.myspace.com/alessisark

Mascott

(Reveal Records)

Album ‘Art Project’ out 20th April 2009

Free Mp3 available now – http://soundcloud.com/stayloose/mascott-4th-of-july

Official site: www.myspace.com/mascott

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Album Of The Month March 09-Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It’s Blitz-

“Zero” By  Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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While many once cutting edge indie guitar bands of the noughties have disbanded or lost the plot by going for a smoother often over-produced sound, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s continue to go from strength to strength as their dazzling throbber of a new album – It’s Blitz – clearly demonstrates.

It’s high energy New York Art Rock at its best mixing the down and dirty tones of their debut Fever to Tell LP with the (slightly) more melodic – yet still true to themselves – follow up, Show Your Bones.

Okay, it’s been done before at ‘difficult third album’ stage but the addition of synths for this offering proves to be the coup de grace and more than just a nod to the New 80s/Little Boots/La Roux movement as they smartly propel the band forward augmenting their cool rather than dragging them down Retro Road.

The opener, Zero, quite rightly is the single exuding a typical combination of rock rawness and swerving tunefulness that so suit Karen O’s vocals. As with the rest of the tracks on the album, never has the band – which also includes Brian Chase on drums and Nick Zinner on guitarist/keyboards – sounded so together.

The shimmering choppy rhythm synonymous with many YYYs tracks is no more evident than on Heads Will Roll while Soft Shock is indeed numbingly just that and is notable particularly for it swelling, welling climax.

You wouldn’t bat an eyelid if song number three, Skeletons – electronic bagpipes to a backdrop of military marching rhythms – popped out of the soundtrack of the classic 1983 film, Local Hero.

And just to show that the trio have not forgotten their proud punk roots, Dull Life is a piercing drum and guitar dominated track. Similarly the grinding rollicking Shame and Fortune would just as comfortably sit on the debut Fever album.

But contrasts are strong throughout It’s Blitz so it’s no surprise that the next tune, Runaway, is a moody melodic piece that begins with tinkling keyboards before transforming into a pseudo-power balled.

Yes, disco and dance are here too; Dragon Queen spins and twirls as the guitar once again is pushed more to the fore and you can imagine ABC or Friendly Fires  hiding somewhere in the shadows.

Ironically Hysteric is anything but – a lovely hum along song that could just as well have been on Show Your Bones. Dig that cute whistling outro too that highlights the attention to detail given to the whole production.

The haunting Little Shadow would only add to the eeriness if it was introduced into a Hollywood horror blockbuster while, at the other end of the spectrum, Faces – the bonus track – is pure and simple irresistible bouncy pop.

So there you have it. You won’t be track-hopping when listening to this one as there is not a duff one on the album. Like the singer’s surname it’s a complete and rounded work even down to the simplistically stylish smashed egg cover pic (whatever happened to great LP covers?).

‘Show Your Bones’ was the NME runner-up album of the year in 2006 and, like their first, received world-wide critical acclaim. Sales levels were very impressive but not quite equal to the expectations that followed such excellent reviews, peaking at no 7 in the UK album chart and no. 11 on Stateside.

But perhaps this latest musical masterpiece will finally establish the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as serious contenders for one of the top bands in the world both inside and outside the indie arena.

Let’s hope so!

9/10.

Links

Myspace

Official Site

Words : Neal Zetter
comedy performance poet

“Zero” By Yeah, Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Live On Jools Holland

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Alive And Kicking -Metric Interview

“Help I’m Alive “ By Metric

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Myspace

It’s hard to believe Metric have been around in one form or another for the best part of a decade. Despite the fact that they are huge in their home country of Canada, with multi platinum albums and sell-out gigs, they have enjoyed something of a cult status in the UK  whilst threatening on a number of occasions, to break through into the wider public consciousness.   Several song placements in hit TV shows such as “CSI” and “Grey’s Anatomy” means that many, this side of the pond, would recognise a Metric track, without necessarily knowing who the song was actually by. Let’s hope the release of their latest album “Fantasies” will address that particular quandary and help them develop the fan base their music deserves, in dear old Blighty.  Since the Metric’s last release band members have hardly let the grass grow under their feet, singer Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw also perform with Broken Social Scene, and Haines has been a guest on albums by Stars, KC Accidental and Delirium as well as working on her solo project Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton. With such an abundance of creative activity, it’s not hard to understand why Metrics last album “Live It Out” was way back in pre recession 2005, but in 2009 with the economy shrinking at the same rate as the chances of Lady Ga-Ga ever becoming anything other than hugely irritating, Metric arrive with a sound that is bigger and more accomplished than ever.

“Fantasies” is their fourth studio album and possibly their best work to date, the sleek production has given rise to a slightly more radio friendly feel but it’s done in such a way that is unobtrusive and merely serves to help the band achieve a sound that is bold and dramatic whilst still retaining their intrinsic “Metric-ness”.  True to their Indie roots the band are self-releasing and self-financing the album via their own global label, Metric Music International, as lead singer Emily Haines explains “It was strange having some real choices for the first time in our career while also feeling like whichever deal we chose was going to end up being restrictive and force us to compromise creatively. At one point, we just said ‘oh F**k it, let’s gamble’, took a deep breath and decided to put this record out worldwide our own way.”

“Fantasies” is definitely a significant step forward for the Canadian quartet in terms of consistency and the overall roundness of their sound and throughout, Haines’ always impressive vocals are underpinned by insistent guitars fused with majestic synth flourishes and thundering percussion, it’s also an album that’s jam-packed with potential hit singles. There is much to marvel at here, but what really marks out “Fantasies” as their finest album yet is the sheer melodic splendour of the song writing on display.  “Help I’m Alive” starts off as an eerie, atmospheric, edgy slice of  electronica  and ends up morphing into an anthemic Indie rocker, “Gimme Sympathy” is a definitive example of how to produce a perfect Indie- pop song, full of memorable hooks and a chorus to die for,  as Haines asks the age old question, “”Who would you rather be? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones” (the Clash as it happens, but there you go 😉

“Fantasies” looks set to gain Metric an army of new fans, and serve as a reminder to us old stalwarts what a great band they are and just how much we’ve missed the little scamps.  We were delighted to have an opportunity to chat to Emily and ask the sort of probing questions that makes Jeremy Paxman look like an amiable teddy bear who needs a great big hug.

VP: Your new album “Fantasies” is released April 14, and took a year and a half to complete , was it a conscious decision to take your time,  or did other factors come into play ?

EMILY: Yes for the first time since we started playing live as a band we gave ourselves a minute to live outside of being on tour. Jimmy built a studio and I went on a writing trip to Argentina. When we all regrouped in Toronto we had an albums worth of songs and a brand new studio of our own to record our album in our own

VP: What sort of influences came to bear on the song writing for “Fantasies”?  You’d mentioned in the past that because of constant touring you needed to “reconnect with your humanity” before you began writing your next album.

EMILY: Well All four of us have always been nomadic and I don’t see that changing anytime soon!  I get more inspiration from discovering new places than I do from listening to whatever band is of the moment. Getting away from myself and being introduced to visual artists and filmmakers got me back on track.

VP:  If fans pre-order the album from your website they also receive exclusive artwork from “Hollywood In Cambodia” Who are they and how did you come across them?

EMILY: They are Buenos Aires based graffiti art collective I discovered while I was there writing. They are the visual equivalent of Broken Social Scene.

VP:   What happened on March 30, 2008 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto when you suddenly said “”I don’t want to play these songs anymore?”

EMILY: I was sick of being sad and was already well into writing “Fantasies” with Metric. When I play music I inhabit the emotion of the song and I do not fake it.

VP:  Have you a favourite track on the album or is it just too tricky to just pick one?

EMILY: You’re right, it is impossible to choose just one!

VP: Will you be playing any UK shows this year?

EMILY: Yes we start our UK tour in May

VP: What would you say have been the most memorable moments in your time as Metric?

EMILY: Meeting Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth and playing with the Rolling Stones two nights at Madison Square Garden.

VP:  The digital age has transformed music industry forever… How do you feel about it and do you think the industry has been slow to embrace the so called” digital revolution”

EMILY:  I do think the old music industry has been more interested in trying to shut down the future than in developing new ideas. That’s why Metric decided to put together our own label for worldwide distribution and make IloveMetric.com our international headquarters. The future is here and Metric delivers!

VP:  What music has been inspiring you this year so far?

EMILY: MIA, Fever Ray and Flash Lightening

VP:  Five words to sum up “Fantasies”

EMILY: Big Dreamy Psychedelic Flight Forward

Links

Order The Album

Official Site

On Myspace

Tour Dates

Wallpapers

Videos

“Gimme Sympathy” By Metric

“Dead Disco” By Metric

“Help I’m Alive”– Interview

The Raw Side Of METRIC

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